June 11, 2020 / 2:26 PM / a month ago

India rejects Pakistan offer of help disbursing coronavirus cash

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks during an international conference on the future of Afghan refugees living in Pakistan, organized by Pakistan and the UN Refugee Agency in Islamabad, Pakistan February 17, 2020. REUTERS/Saiyna Bashir

ISLAMABAD/NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday offered to help neighbouring India disburse cash to the public during the coronavirus lockdown, citing a report Indians were struggling to make ends meet, but India later rejected the offer.

Relations have been hostile between the two countries, and their troops regularly exchange fire across a disputed boundary in the mountainous region of Kashmir.

The Mumbai-based Center for Monitoring Indian Economy found in a survey in April that 84% of Indian households reported a drop in income since a lockdown was imposed in March. A third of those surveyed said they would run out of financial resources after one week.

“I am ready to offer help & share our successful cash transfer prog, lauded internationally for its reach & transparency, with India,” Khan wrote on Twitter.

Pakistan has transferred cash to 10 million families impacted by the coronavirus pandemic since launching a relief programme on April 1.

India dismissed the offer from Pakistan, its neighbour with whom it has fought three wars.

Indian foreign ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava noted that his country’s stimulus package was as large as the gross domestic product of Pakistan.

Both countries imposed lockdowns in March to curb the spread of the virus, but Pakistan lifted its restrictions more than a month ago while India still has many in place.

Khan justified lifting the lockdown citing economic hardships facing its impoverished population. He has often cited India as an example of the negative impact of lockdowns.

Reporting by Umar Farooq and Sanjeev Miglani; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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